In cities around the globe, there is an exciting movement afoot to share ideas and models that help connect artists more deeply with their communities. From Santiago, Chile, to St Paul, Minnesota, local citizens are partnering with artists to address challenges and make positive change.
This movement isn’t about positioning artists as special outsiders who parachute in with easy fixes, but as neighbours who are one part of a whole set of things a community can do to be healthy. Nor is this movement about artists volunteering their skills, or being asked to contribute their skills “for exposure” – rather, it’s about artists who are justly compensated for their work and skills.
Of course, not all examples in this movement play it this way. But that’s what they should strive for: a point where all participants are valued for their unique contributions. Here are some projects that demonstrate the potential of artists to help create vital and just communities.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra continues to enjoy an uptick in attendance while balancing its budget for the sixth consecutive year.
Last year's season, starting with the inaugural concerts of music director Louis Langrée and guest narrator Maya Angelou, have been a steady crescendo of growing audiences, groundbreaking initiatives and increased donations. And behind the scenes, the orchestra is close to erasing a nagging structural deficit.
Even as many American orchestras around the country are struggling, tens of thousands of people flocked to Music Hall last year to hear Brahms, Beethoven and Boyz II Men. Cincinnati is the smallest city in the nation that still supports a full-time, 52-week orchestra. The nation's fifth oldest orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony is one of just 14 year-round orchestras in America.
"We're on a roll. Attendance is up, contributions are up and our educational initiatives are expanding," said the orchestra's president, Trey Devey. "I think that the orchestra is in great shape with Louis and (Pops conductor) John Morris Russell. Our supporters are energized, our audiences are energized. The success we had last season is another example of the community rallying around the orchestra."
by Janelle Gelfand, firstname.lastname@example.org @Cincinnati.com
Save the date!
Carnegie Hall will present your Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2016. The ASO and ASO Chorus will perform Brahms's "Ein deutsches Requiem" at Carnegie Hall on April 30, 2016. In addition to the ASO, conducted by Robert Spano and our fabulous ASOC, directed by Norman Mackenzie, we take with us captivating soloists: soprano Jessica Rivera and baritone Nmon Ford. Put this event on your calendar, reserve tickets and make travel arrangements. Join your ASO in NYC!
Note: the ASO performance for the spring of 2016 is mentioned toward the end of the NY Times article.
News: Fulton County commissioners maintain $1.5 million funding level for arts in 2015
Among arts advocates who attended, Collins Goss, development manager at Horizon Theatre, spoke about the revenue arts brought to the city. “In 2013 Fulton County gave the arts community $1.5 million for contracts for services and in return the arts community invested $365 million back into the county,” she said. “That is money at our theaters but also at our local restaurants, shops next door, gas stations, everything. To me that is a really incredible return on an investment. We encourage you to maintain those levels.”
Tess Malis Kincaid, an actress, director, teacher and arts administrator who has worked at Georgia Ensemble Theatre for 22 years, spoke about how the arts have made a difference.
“Through my years I have seen the community grow to a great place for arts,” she said. “In Roswell, I have seen the area grow from a quiet suburban city to a best-selling, very artsy one.
“As a teacher I have seen the impact on young people. I have seen families and young professionals who choose to move to the area because of the arts. The arts are the heartbeat of the community.”
After the meeting, Chris Escobar, artistic director of Atlanta Film Festival, expressed relief, commenting that Fulton County has benefited organizations not just from delivering funds but also “in the stability of those dollars: being able to count on those dollars not changing drastically year to year helps a lot in terms of being able to plan and think strategically.
“What was encouraging was they kept it level, despite budgetary hardships we all understand. It’s not easy.”
He was also heartened by the increased recognition and awareness and consideration for the arts and for contracts for services.
Eaves’ website stated that county funding exceeds the state’s contribution. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies reported that Georgia was dead last in the country for funding for fiscal year 2014 and is projected to remain at the bottom for fiscal year 2015. The agency’s Per Capita State Arts Agency Appropriations chart shows neighboring states faring much better — Florida ranks number 4 for funding, with Tennessee 16, Alabama 23 and South Carolina 32.
What can business people take away from exposure to the arts? Philosophically, I believe that to become the creative, innovative and imaginative citizens that our companies want us to be, we need to willingly expose ourselves to new ideas.
Arts organizations in Georgia and nationally rely on financial investments from both individuals and corporations to thrive. Volunteering time in the arts and experiencing its culture is also a simple and highly effective way to make this possible. Networking and connecting with creative minds results in new solutions, opportunities and valuable relationships. It’s a way to get involved in your passion and see how your business learnings can be applied outside of the office. I knew that I didn’t have the skills to be an actor or singer, but that didn’t stop me from finding a way to get involved in a cause that I was passionate about. It was incredibly rewarding to see success and know my efforts helped (and I left the acting to the professionals).
Further, the Atlanta economy needs a strong cultural scene to help attract and retain top talent from around the world, and a rich cultural arts scene significantly contributes to the economy, tourism and the quality of life. People want to live and work in a city with a vibrant arts community.
Atlanta, Georgia, is undergoing a revitalization that will lure in young professionals. In the past, young professionals clustered in the smaller satellite cities outside Atlanta, but recent gentrification and construction projects have lured them back to downtown Atlanta.
Similar to New York's High Line, the Atlanta BeltLine is a redevelopment project that's transforming an old railway track into a recreational path for cyclists and pedestrians. Piedmont Park has been revitalized as new constructions crop up around it.
Dozens of exciting restaurants opened in 2014 with even more expected for 2015.
ATL Symphony Musicians